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Posts Tagged ‘Gluten-free’

We know you don’t need to be told how to make a tomato salad, but this one was particularly nice so we thought we would share.

Tomato salad – serves 4 as a side

  • 700g mixed tomatoes, slice large ones into thick slices and halve tiny ones
  • a generous handful of basil leaves
  • a small handful of parsley leaves
  • 1 heaped tbsp chopped oregano
  • a handful of watercress
  • ½ a red onion, thinly sliced
  • balsamic vinegar
  • good olive oil
  • a ball of top quality buffalo mozzarella

Put the tomatoes into a large bowl with the herbs, watercress and onion. Drizzle over some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then season with salt and pepper. Toss well together, then transfer to a platter.

Top with torn mozzarella and drizzle with a little more oil.

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The rich sauce here is inspired by the sherry-like Savignin from the Jura. It’s a while since we’ve been there so we had to settle for dry sherry which still made a delicious sauce. Green beans and some new potatoes are perfect on the side.

Wine Suggestion: We think this works with a mountain wine of some sort, where you get the bracing freshness of altitude but can also get depth and body to stand up to the flavoursome sauce. In the absence of a Savignin in the fridge we turned to a Côtes du Jura Chardonnay by Chevasu-Fassenet. Rich, creamy, with hints of oak and a layer of oxidative flor mingled in with the fruit giving this a grip and extra zip.

Sautéed sea trout with sherry sauce – serves 2

  • 50g butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 60ml dry sherry
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 100g full-fat crème fraîche
  • ½ tsp dry sherry
  • 1 tsp finely chopped parsley
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea trout fillets, enough for 2

Heat 30g of the butter in a pan and gently cook the shallot until softened. Add the sherry and chicken stock, then reduced by three-quarters. Whisk in the crème fraîche and reduced for a couple of minutes, then whisk in the rest of the butter.

Reduce the sauce until it coats the back of a spoon, then take off the heat and add the extra ½ tsp of sherry and parsley. Season with a pinch of salt and sugar and keep warm.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the trout, skin-side down, for about 4 minutes. Turn when the skin is crispy and finish cooking briefly on the other side.

Serve with the sauce, some green beans and new potaotes.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Secret France, BBC Books, 2019.)

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This really is just the most delicious treat; the perfect beginning of a meal for 2. You will need bread!

Wine Suggestion: an excellent match for a well made Chardonnay with deftly handled oak. Without spending huge amounts Rustenberg’s Stellenbosch Chardonnay is a go to wine for us. With wild ferment in barrels this is complex, nutty, rich and smooth. Power and restraint in equal proportions.

Scallops with green peppercorns and garlic – serves 2

  • 6 scallops, you can remove the corals if you like but we recommend eating them
  • a knob of butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp green peppercorns (you buy them in jars with brine)
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 2-3 tbsp double cream

Heat the grill as high as it will go.

Put the scallops onto a small tray or dish that can go under the grill. We used a small oven-proof frying pan.

Dot the butter over and around the scallops, along with the garlic, peppercorns and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.

Put the dish under the hot grill, fairly close to the element. Grill for 2-3 minutes, then flip over, add the cream, give the tray a shake, then return to the grill for another 2 minutes or untl the scallops are cooked and the sauce bubbling.

Eat with lots of good bread to mop up the sauce.

(Original recipe from Gather by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2017.)

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Try this for a tasty weekend brunch dish. Serve with toasted sourdough for mopping.

Baked green eggs – serves 2

  • 100g baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp fresh pesto
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp finely grated gruyère
  • 2 eggs

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Mix together the spinach, pesto, cream and some seasoning, and tip into 2 shallow ovenproof dishes.

Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top.

Create a hollow in each dish with a spoon, then gently break in the eggs. Bake the dishes in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Mussels are a Friday night staple in our house, they’re such good value and sustainable too. We find a creamy, garlicky sauce hard to resist. You will need some fries or crusty bread to go alongside.

Wine Suggestion: It’s a while since we had Muscadet but mussels cried out for some, so Domaine de la Chauviniere’s signature Muscadet sür lie Sèvre et Maine was duly opened and thoroughly enjoyed. This wine is so reliable, plus not too expensive so you won’t mind using some in the dish too much.

Moules à la Crème – serves 4

  • 20g butter
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, very finely chopped
  • 2-3 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1kg mussels, scrubbed
  • 350ml white wine
  • 75ml double cream
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • a large handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan, then add the garlic, shallots, thyme and bay leaf and cook gently for 5-8 minutes or until softened and starting to brown.

Add the mussels and wine, then cover and cook for a couple of minutes or until the mussels have opened. Strain the mussels over a bowl to catch the cooking liquid.

Return the liquid and bay leaf to the pan, bring to the boil and reduce by half. Add the cream, lemon and plenty of black pepper, then return the mussels and shallots to the pan and add the parsley. Put the lid back on and bring up to the boil for another minute. Serve in warm bowls with fries or crusty bread.

(Original recipe from Restore by Gizzi Erskine, HQ, 2020.)

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A Moroccan-inspired fish dish for mid-week. Some couscous and yoghurt on the side are good additions.

Wine Suggestion: this works well with Grenache Blanc and we’ve fallen in love with one from Terra Alta in the south of Catalonia made by Edetaria. As it’s mid-week, the basic and joyful “via Terra” Garnatxa Blanca with its perfume and balance af fresh and ripe fruit flavours is perfect.

Fish Tagine with Saffron & Almonds – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • a good pinch of saffron
  • 600ml hot fish stock or chicken stock
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • ½ a green chilli, thinly sliced (keep the other half to serve)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • zest of 1 orange, juice of ½
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 700g white fish, cut into large chunks, we used hake
  • a small bunch of coriander, chopped
  • a handful of flaked almonds, toasted
  • ½ green chilli, to serve

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes to soften.

Meanwhile, put the saffron in the hot stock and leave to steep.

Add the garlic, ginger and chilli to the pan and cook for another few minutes. Add the spices and tomato purée, stir for a few minutes until fragrant, then add the tomatoes, ground almonds, orange zest and juice, honey and saffron-stock. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down and the sauce has thickened slightly.

Add the fish and nestle it well down into the sauce. Cover with a lid and simmer on a low heat for 2-3 minutes or until just cooked. Season to taste, then add the coriander and scatter with the toasted almonds. Scatter with the extra green chilli to serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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We’ve had limited success with prawn cakes in the past, they often fall apart. These are grilled which makes things much easier and the peanut chilli sauce is amazing!

Wine Suggestion: these call for a vibrant, youthful white like Weingut Korrell’s Weißer Burgunder (Pinot Blanc) which was full of charming pear and apple flavours with a zesty citrus twist that complemented the limes and fish sauce a treat.

Prawn cakes with peanut chilli sauce – serves 4 as a starter

  • 2 tbsp palm sugar or soft brown sugar
  • 3 cm piece of fresh ginger
  • a handful of coriander leaves, chopped
  • 3 small Thai shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 long red chilli, diced
  • 400g raw peeled prawns
  • zest of 2 limes
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tsp vegetable oil
  • chilled iceberg lettuce, to serve

FOR THE PEANUT CHILLI SAUCE:

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100ml rice vinegar
  • 2 red chillies, diced
  • 2 tbsp peanuts, toasted, finely chopped
  • 2 small Thai shallots, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp coriander

Put the palm or brown sugar into a small frying pan with 1 tbsp of water. Mix together and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat.

To make the peanut chilli sauce, boil the sugar and vinegar in a small saucepan with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes or until syrupy. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely, then add the chilli, peanuts, shallot, fish sauce and coriander.

To make the cakes, put the ginger, coriander, shallot and chilli in a food processor and blend until fine. Add the prawns, lime zest and fish sauce and pulse until combined, keep it chunky. Season with plenty of black pepper.

Put a little oil on your hands, then form the prawn mixture into 16 flat cakes. Put in the fridge until ready to cook.

Preheat the grill. Brush both sides of the prawn cakes with a tiny bit of oil then put on a rack on top of a baking tray.

Grill the cakes for 1 minute, then brush the tops with the palm sugar syrup. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until opaque, there is no need to turn. Serve warm with the chilled lettuce leaves and peanut chilli sauce.

(Original recipe from My Asian Kitchen by Jennifer Joyce, Murdoch Books, 2018.)

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This is a nice simple marinade for chicken thighs, perfect for sunny evenings.

Wine Suggestion: A good match with a nice, dry Provençal rosé. Tonight, one Jono’s work has commissioned from Chateau Vignelaure, the “Ode to Joy Rosé”. The name is inspired by Beethoven’s famous symphony which was written to celebrate the end of war and desperation, but with the current pandemic dragging on and effecting all our lives also celebrating hope and better times ahead from this as well. We’ll happily celebrate this with this wine as it’s delicious and tastes of a joyful summer.

Herby lemon chicken thighs – serves 6

  • 12 boneless chicken thighs with the skin on
  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 50g preserved lemon, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 3 tbsp oregano leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
  • lemon wedges, to serve

Put the chicken thighs into a shallow dish, then add the olive oil, preserved lemon, garlic, herbs and lots of salt and pepper. Mix with your hands to coat then cover and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Take out of the fridge for 15 minutes before cooking.

Cook on a hot barbecue for 15-20 minutes or until cooked. Serve with the lemon wedges.

(Original recipe from Outdoor Cooking by Tom Kerridge, Bloomsbury Absolute, 2021.)

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We like to have soup for lunch but tend to get out of the habit in the summer months. This one is suitably summery and really captures the flavour of courgette.

Courgette and mint soup – serves 4

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 6 courgettes, halved lengthways and thinly sliced
  • 750ml veg stock
  • 150ml crème fraîche, plus a bit extra to serve
  • a small bunch of mint leaeves, chopped

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then cook the onions withs ome salt for about 10 minutes or until soft but not browned. Add the garlic and cook gently for a few minutes, then add the courgettes and cook gently for 20 minutes.

Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil for a few minutes. Whizz the soup until smooth, then stir in the crème fraîche and mint, then whizz again. Season.

Serve in warm bowls with some extra crème fraîche and mint leaves to garnish.

(Original recipe by Adam Bush in Olive Magazine, June 2020.)

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This recipe is from Chasing Smoke: Cooking Over Fire Around the Levant by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich. They have memories of cooking potatoes in bonfires as children and how delicious they tasted. They really are delicious and if you’ve made the effort to light your barbecue you may as well throw a few potatoes in the embers too.

Baked potatoes with charred spring onion sour cream – serves 4

  • 4 baking potatoes, about 250g each

FOR THE SOUR CREAM DRESSING:

  • 8-10 scallions
  • 300g sour cream
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp flaky sea salt
  • black pepper
  • zest and juice of half a lemon

Wrap each potato in tin foil and place in the embers of your barbecue or campfire. Leave there for about 45 minutes or until a metal skewer goes in easily, turn them over a couple of times as they cook.

Meanwhile, char half the scallions on the grill for a few minutes on each side or until charred. Remove from the heat and finely chop.

Finely slice the green parts of the remaining scallions and set aside to sprinkle over at the end. Cut the remaining white parts into small pieces and stir into the sour cream along with the charred scalllions and the rest of the ingredients.

Remove the cooked potatoes from the fire and remove the foil. Cut each one down the middle and sprinkle with the flaky sea salt and fill with the sour cream mixture. Spinkle over the green scallions and some black pepper before serving.

(Original recipe from Chasing Smoke: Cooking over fire around the Levant by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, Pavilion, 2021.)

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We’ve done this a few times this week. It’s a great side for a barbecue and it looks after itself in the oven while you organise everything else. Make it while you can still get local asparagus.

Roasted balsamic asparagus & cherry tomatoes – serves 4 as a side

  • 350g asparagus, snap off the woody ends and discard
  • 330g pack cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 50g feta, crumbled

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Put the asparagus and cherry tomatoes onto a baking sheet and drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic. Season, then toss together. Bake for 15 minutes or until the asparagus is cooked through. Sprinkle over the feta to serve.

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We’re a bit salad-obsessed these days. This one is huge and will feed a crowd when you have them over to your garden. Perfect with a piece of barbecued lamb.

Minted pea and spinach salad with bacon – serves 4-6

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 slices streaky bacon or pancetta, cut into lardons
  • 200g frozen peas, defrosted (only Birds Eye will do in our opinion)
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed with a little salt
  • a bunch of mint, finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 200g baby spinach
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 50g feta cheese, crumbled

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and cook the bacon over a medium heat until starting to crisp up.

Mix the defrosted peas with the garlic, mint, red onion and baby spinach.

Dress the salad with 4 tbsp of olive oil and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Toss in the bacon and scatter the feta on top.

(Original recipe from Avoca Salads, edited by Hugo Arnold, Avoca Ltd, 2007.)

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Barbecue season is coming (hopefully!) and potato salad is the perfect accompaniment. The dressing will make far more than you need but you can keep it in the fridge for a couple of weeks and dress all your salads with it, so worth making.

Potato Salad – serves 4

  • 900g small new potatoes
  • 2 tbsp French dressing (see below)
  • 6 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • a large bunch of mint, chopped

FOR THE FRENCH DRESSING:

  • 100ml red or white wine vinegar
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 200ml sunflower oil
  • ½ a clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey

To make the French dressing, put all the ingredients into a food processor, season with salt and pepper, and whizz to combine (or you can do like us and shove it all in a jar and give it a good shake!).

Put the potatoes into a pan of salty water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until completely tender, then drain and put into a bowl. Mix in 2 tbsp of French dressing and leave to cool.

Mix the mayonnaise, yoghurt and mint together and toss with the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to serve.

(Original recipe from Avoca Salads, edited by Hugo Arnold, Avoca Ltd, 2007.)

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It just wouldn’t be spring without asparagus soup would it? Though the weather is far from spring-like in Dublin. This is from Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson, though I suspect Simon may not approve of our half-whizzed texture. You can of course whizz until smooth and pass through a fine sieve if you’re equally fussy.

Asparagus soup – serves 4

  • 100g butter
  • 4 small leeks, white parts only, trimmed and chopped
  • 750ml water
  • 1 potato, peeled and chopped
  • 450g fresh asparagus, snap off the woody ends and peel the thicker ends a little
  • 250ml double cream

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then sweat the leeks until soft.

Add the water and potato, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 15 minutes.

Chop the asparagus and add to the soup, then boil rapidly for 5 minutes.

Whizz the soup in a blender or food processor, then pass through a fine sieve (or if you’re lazy like us you can just roughly whizz with a stick blender).

(Original recipe from Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson, Ebury Press, 1994.)

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You should try this the next time you have some leftover roast chicken. In fact, it’s even worth cooking some chicken specially. Great for lunch with some fresh bread and butter.

Chopped Chicken Salad – serves 4 (generously)

  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, diced (or just use some leftover roast chicken which is what we did)
  • 3 celery sticks, diced
  • 4 scallions, sliced into rounds
  • ½ cucumber, deseeded and diced
  • 100g radishes, thinly sliced
  • 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tarragon sprigs, leaves finely chopped
  • 2 thyme springs, leaves only
  • 1 heart of romaine lettuce or Little Gem lettuce, finely chopped
  • 50g watercress, stems finely chopped and leaves left whole
  • 50g rocket, roughly chopped
  • 50g Parmesan, finely grated

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp runny honey
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

You need to start with a very large bowl, big enough to toss all of the salad ingredients together in.

Make the salad dressing in the bowl by whisking all of the ingredients together with some salt and black pepper.

Add the chicken to the dressing in the bowl and toss to coat. Fold in the chopped celery, scallions, cucumber, radishes and cherry tomatoes, then the herbs. Stir it all together and season with salt and black pepper.

When you are ready to serve, add the lettuce, watercress, rocket and Parmesan to the bowl. Toss everything together and serve as it is or tip out onto a large serving dish.

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ One Pot Wonders by Si King & Dave Myers, Seven Dials, 2019.)

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For our wedding anniversary this year we barbecued a whole rib of beef on the bone: consider it a super-rib eye steak. With the bone attached this is much harder to do completely on the barbecue (but not impossible). There is also an easier way if you finish the steak in the oven, which helps to to control the doneness while still getting the lovely barbecue char and flavours.

Wine Suggestion: Given the occasion we opened a bottle of Domaine de Chevalier Rouge 2009 from Pessac Leognan. A great vintage with fleshy fruit that at 12 years of age was singing very expressively. Super elegant and refined fruits, perfumed with that slight pencil edge that characterises the appellation and silky tannins that were both powerful and gentle in equal measure. Definitely powerful enough to stand next to the robust steak and then elevate the sum to another level. Well worth cellaring.

Rib of beef with wild mushroom butter – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 50g mixed wild mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp Madeira
  • 1 tbsp cream
  • 1 tsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ tsp chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp white truffle oil (optional)
  • 100g butter, diced and softened
  • 1 rib of beef on the bone

First, make the butter. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the mushrooms with the shallots and garlic. Cook gently for 5 minutes or until cooked through but not coloured.

Add the Madeira, cream and herbs to the pan and cook for 3 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated. Season to taste and stir in the truffle oil if using. Leave to cool completely.

Put the butter and cooled mushroom mixture into a food processor and purée until smooth. Scrape out onto a piece of non-stick baking paper, then roll into a cylinder, twisting the ends to secure. Chill for at least 2 hours, until hardened.

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F.

Take your steak out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes to come up to room temperature. Season at this stage too.

Cook over the direct heat on your barbecue for 8-10 minutes, turning to make sure all sides are well browned with a little charring.

Place the barbecued steak onto a preheated ovenproof pan, and put it in the oven for 15-20 minutes and until done to your liking.

We used a meat thermometer to judge doneness and removed the steak at 55C. While we like our steaks on the rare side we find that medium-rare to medium works best when cooking a rib on the bone. This ensures all the juicy fats are rendered properly. If you’d like it a little rarer cook to 52C. Remember that the steak keeps on cooking while resting too.

When your steak is cooked to your liking, remove it from the oven and sit it on a rack set over a tray. Cut the butter into slices and arrange on top of the steak. Set aside to rest for 15-20 minutes before carving the steak from the bone and slicing. Serve with the buttery mushrooms spooned over.

(Original recipe from Neven Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook, Gill Books, 2016.)

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We don’t make a roast dinner every week but we do like one occasionally, especially in the brighter months when you can lighten them up a bit with some spring veg. Ask your butcher to score the pork skin for you, then leave it uncovered in the fridge overnight to dry out the skin, which will help with the crispy crackling.

Wine suggestion: Quite often we have an oaky white with roast pork but tonight we had a notion for red and a 6 year old Olga Raffault Chinon Les Pucasses which was just hitting it’s stride and will be drinking nicely for another 10 years we think. Deep , complex and brooding and yet the limestone soils give it an immediate freshness and vivacity.

Roast pork belly with herbs & new potatoes – serves 4

  • 3-4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1.5kg thick end of pork belly, bone in, skin completely dry (see above)
  • 300g new potatoes
  • a few sprigs of mint, leaves picked and finely chopped, stalks reserved
  • a knob of butter
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • a small bunch of parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • a small bunch of chives, finely chopped
  • 2 handfuls of peas or broad bean tops if available (we didn’t have these but we served with some double podded broad beans instead)
  • juice of ½ lemon

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

Toast the fennel seeds in a small pan until fragrant, then tip into a pestle and mortar and coarsely grind. Score the skin and fat (but not the flesh) of the pork with a sharp knife if your butcher hasn’t done this for you already.

Put the pork into a roasting tray and rub allover with the crushed fennel seeds and some salt.

Put the pork into the oven for 30 minutes to crisp up the skin, then reduce the heat to 160C/315F/Gas 2-3. Add half a glass of water to the tray and roast for a further 2 hours, until crispy and tender. You will need to keep checking the water and ensuring that the pan doesn’t dry out.

While the pork is roasting, halve the potatoes if they’re big and put into a saucepan with the mint stalks. Cover with salty water and simmer until just tender, then drain and return to the pan, discarding the mint stalks. Add the butter and 1 tbsp of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then set aside.

Remove the cooked pork from the oven and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. Add the chopped herbs to the potatoes and stir gently to coat, then spoon onto a warm platter. Slice the pork and arrange on the platter with the potatoes, then skim the fat from the juices in the roasting tin and spoon the juices over the pork and potatoes,.

If you have pea or bean tops, put them into a bowl and dress with the 1 tbsp of olive oil and the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Scatter these over the pork and serve. (We dressed our broad beans with some olive oil and lemon and served these alongside instead).

(Original recipe from Gather by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2016.)

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Daffodils, warmer weather (occasionally … ), longer days, and spring vegetables arriving in the shops. Things are definitely looking up, at least in our kitchen if nowhere else.

Wine Suggestion: The asparagus cried out for the Höpler Grüner Veltliner lurking in the fridge waiting for spring to arrive. GV is one of the few varieties to work with asparagus and this dish isn’t shy of their flavours so a good match. Crisp pear and zesty lemon flavours overlay the hints of characteristic white pepper umami savouriness; this is so clean and vibrant it shouts the beginning of the season.

Asparagus, wild garlic & Gorgonzola risotto – serves 3

  • a bunch of asparagus, snap off and discard the woody ends
  • 1.5 litres of vegetable stock
  • 40g butter and 25g of cold diced butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 250g superfino carnaroli rice
  • 60ml dry white wine
  • 40g Parmesan, grated
  • 60g Gorgonzola
  • a small handful of wild garlic leaves, finely chopped

Remove the tips from the asparagus and chop the stems into 3cm pieces.

Blanch the tips in a pan of salty boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Bring the stock the boil, then turn down and keep it at a bare simmer.

Melt 40g butter in a heavy-based pan, add the onion and asparagus stalks, then cook gently until the onion is soft and translucent, but not coloured.

Turn the heat up a little and add the rice. Stir for a couple of minutes until warm and coated with the butter and onion.

Add the wine and allow it to bubble up and almost disappear, then start adding the stock a ladle at a time. Keep stirring and only add more stock when the previous ladleful has been absorbed. Start tasting the rice after about 15 minutes, you want it to be soft but still with a little bite in the centre.

Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the cold butter, Parmesan, 20g of the Gorgonzola and the wild garlic. Season to taste, then ladle into warm bowls and garnish with the asparagus tips and the rest of the Gorgonzola.

(Original recipe from Made at Home by Giorgio Locatelli, 4th Estate, 2017.)

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For no particular reason we tend to eat mostly meat and fish dominant dishes on the weekend, and mostly veg during the week. This has been unsettled recently as we have no one to share our dishes with, so there is inevitably lots of leftovers from the weekend, and fewer opportunities to cook vegetables. This weekend we made sure to include a veggie dish in the line up and we’re looking forward to the leftovers already. Lots of lovely warm spices in this one. Serve with steamed rice.

Wine Suggestion: a nice accomaniment to this was from a young turk in Chateauneuf du Pape, Jean-Paul Daumen’s Méditerannée. From Southern France this contains the usual Rhone varieties alongside Cab Sauv and Merlot for a very pleasurable taste of sunshine. A well thought out biodynamic and organic blend that demonstrates why we shouldn’t always insist on what was grown traditionally in the area; this expands the range of taste on offer in a good way.

Red kidney bean & sweet potato stew with yoghurt & hot mint oil – serves 4

  • vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 big garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 690g jar of passata
  • 500g sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1cm chunks
  • 400g tin red kidney beans, drained
  • 30g flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried mint
  • Greek yoghurt

Put a large saucepan over a medium heat and pour in enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, then add the garlic and stir until both have softened but not coloured.

Stir in the spices and cook for a minutes, then season generously with Maldon salt and black pepper, then stir in the passata. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 25 minutes. Add a splash of water now and then if needed to prevent it sticking.

Stir in the sweet potato and cook for a further 30-40 minutes, or until tender, then add the beans and most of the parsley and heat through.

Meanwhile, put a small pan over a medium heat. Add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and heat before stirring in the dried mint. Stir for a minute or two then remove from the heat.

Serve the stew with some yoghurt, the extra parsley and a drizzle of the hot mint oil.

(Original recipe from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2020.)

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Not much to look at perhaps but this is genuinely one of our favourite soup recipes. It makes a big potful and it’s really tasty, perfect for weekday lunches. 

Red lentil and bacon soup – serves 6

  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 75g smoked back bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 small sweet potato, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 200g red lentils, rinsed
  • 1.5 litres hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • a large sprig of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the bacon, onion and red pepper. Cook on a low heat for 5 minutes or until the veg has started to soften. Add the sweet potato, garlic and lentils and stir for another couple of minutes. 

Pour the hot stock into the pan, add the herbs and season well with salt and pepper. 

Turn the heat up and bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. 

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ British Classics by Si King & Dave Myers, Seven Dials, 2018.)

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